Monday, February 16, 2009

Chavez calls Venezuela vote mandate for socialism


By CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER – 6 hours ago

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez says a referendum victory that removed limits on his re-election is a mandate to intensify his socialist agenda for decades to come. Opponents warn of an impending dictatorship.

Both sides had called the outcome of Sunday's vote key to the future of this South American country, split down the middle between those who worship the president for redistributing Venezuela's oil riches and those who see him as a power-hungry autocrat.

"Those who voted "yes" today voted for socialism, for revolution," Chavez thundered to thousands of ecstatic supporters jamming the streets around the presidential palace. Fireworks lit up the Caracas skyline, and one man walked though the crowd carrying a painting of Chavez that read: "Forever."

Josefa Dugarte stared at the crowd from the stoop of her apartment building with look of dismay.

"These people don't realize what they have done," she muttered.

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